Easy Virtue – 1927 | 80mins | Drama | B&W – Silent
A Noel Coward play was the basis for Hitchcock’s Easy Virtue. It is the tale of Laurita (Isabel Jean), a married woman who falls in love with a young artist. The young man kills himself and she divorces her alcoholic husband. To forget her woes, she travels abroad and meets another young man, John Whittaker (Robin Irvine), whom she marries. But his stuffy upper-class family investigates her background and compels him to divorce her. At the end we see she has nothing left but misery.
Easy Virtue is possibly the finest example of the purely literary film-making so prevalent in England during the twenties. It is a well-produced, basically straightforward filming of the Noel Coward stage play. Yet Hitchcock raises it above the norm. One scene of note involves a proposal of marriage expected during a midnight phone call. The sequence opens with a close-up of a wristwatch. it belongs to a switchboard operator. We know that this is the call in question and can judge the outcome by the expression on the operator’s face as she listens in. The camera does not linger over long silent shots of the couple broken by titles, but stays with the simple, workable premise of the switchboard operator.
ExtractŠ Richard A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky: The Complete Films of Alfred Hitchcock.
Isabel Jeans: Larita Filton
Franklin Dyall: Mr Filton
Ian Hunter: The Plaintiff\’s Counsel
Robin Irvine: John Whittaker
Violet Farebrother: His mother
Eric Bransby Williams: The Correspondent